Plated plans to take meal kits from your doorstep to the grocery store

You can now head to 40 grocery stores across the U.S. to buy Plated meal kits

The notion of pre-measured ingredients being delivered to your door with a recipe book and a vision of a meal may have been a novel idea for home cooks a few years ago, but in 2018, there are about as many meal kit companies as there are varieties of apples. It’s never been easier to skip the takeout menus for a home-cooked meal, but in some ways, never harder for these meal services to differentiate themselves from one another. But up to tackle that challenge head-on is Plated, the five-year-old company based out of New York. The creators believe that their focus on customers will set them apart from their competitors.

Founded in 2012, Plated’s primary strategy appears to be taking a multi-faceted approach to meal kits. As Plated co-founder and CEO Josh Hix told Digital Trends, “We’ve thought from Day One that meal kits (and all perishable food) would need to be omnichannel.”

“Ultimately we’ll be meeting and serving our customer wherever and whenever they want to be met.”

So what exactly does this mean? As Hix explains, “There are just too many different ways that people want to buy and interact with food to sell it all online — for instance, deciding to pick up a single meal at the last minute on your way home from work is not a problem that ecommerce is ever going to be able to solve in a profitable way (not until there are fully autonomous electric vehicles anyway).”

To address this, Plated hopes to bring its products not only to the digital sphere but to the brick-and-mortar universe as well.

josh hix plated interview albertsons

As of April 2018, Plated is now available in 40 grocery stores — 20 Safeway stores in Northern California, and 20 Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area. And in the coming months, Plated will continue to bring its meal kits to more Albertsons-owned locations across the United States. By the end of the year, you should be able to buy these pre-packaged kits from Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, and Haggen.

Plated is also looking to up its convenience game by offering delivery of its meal kits in as little as two hours by way of Instacart, as well as the option to order online for in-store pickup via Albertsons Companies click-and-collect service called Drive Up and Go.

“Being in stores allows us to offer other ways to buy,” Hix said. “Ultimately, we’ll be meeting and serving our customer wherever and whenever they want to be met.”

Josh Hix, co-founder of Plated

Much of this flexibility, Hix said, comes from the wide appeal of meal kits like Plated.

“It turns out that our customer isn’t just one demographic,” he said. “They live all over the U.S. (many of our best markets are not on the coasts), are all ages and lifestyles, and are really defined by their love of food. We’re for people who want to create delicious, distinctive dinners that encourage discovery in the kitchen and amazing experiences around the table.”

We don’t believe meal kits services are ‘complete’ until you can buy them anywhere

Of the many meal kits on the market, Plated may just take the cake when it comes to levels of customization. While others may differentiate solely between meat-eaters and vegetarians, Plated also offers seafood-only recipes, low carb diet options, stovetop-only preparations, low-calorie meals, and other preferences (spicy, gluten-free, etc.). In fact, there are 20 different meal choices offered each week.

“In food, it’s all about understanding and meeting the needs of your customers in an excellent way, every time,” he said. “We don’t believe meal kits services are ‘complete’ until you can buy them anywhere and anytime you want, and have the recipes personalized to your family’s tastes and needs.”

Of course, as convenient as meal kits may be, being a foodie and being environmentally conscious often goes hand in hand. And folks at Plated appear to recognize the conundrum that presents. After all, the sheer amount of packaging that comes in a meal kit is enough to alarm even the most casual environmentalist. But Hix said that his company is seeking to make changes to minimize packaging by doing things like using refrigerated trucks or using smaller containers for in-store products.

plated meal steak and spinach

“Minimizing waste is a top priority; this is an ongoing effort for our brand and we’re fully committed to it,” he said. “It is important to us, and we know it is important to our customers. For customers at home, we help avoid waste in the kitchen by pre-portioning the ingredients to deliver just what’s needed to make dinner and we minimize waste in the supply chain through predictive analytics.”

As rosy as this all sounds, Hix seems well aware of the challenges ahead, and the difficulties associated with being one of many comparable product offerings.

“We’re not the fastest and cheapest [meal kit] — we think there are great meal replacement options out there for those occasions,” Hix said. “We’ve invested a lot in our technology and data science over the years to personalize the cooking experience for each customer and to guide them through a journey of discovering new food.”

Updated on April 5: Plated meal kits are now available in 40 grocery stores.

Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Smart Home

Facebook Portal and Portal+ video-calling devices gain new content and features

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.
Deals

The best air fryer deals you can still snag before Christmas

Christmas is closing in on us fast, but you still have a little bit of time left for last-minute kitchen gifts. We've searched the depths of Amazon and Walmart to bring you the best air fryer deals going on right now.
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.
Smart Home

These wireless security cameras are a wire-free way to protect your home

Home security cameras can give you piece of mind, but if they have wires, are limited in where you can put them. We've rounded up the best battery-operated home security cameras to give you flexibility along with your security.
Product Review

Hue who? Nanoleaf Canvas brings a riot of color and vibrancy to the smart home

Fun and festive, Nanoleaf Canvas feature lighting adds personality and vibrancy to any room. Nanoleaf Canvas features squares that you can connect in any configuration you’d like. Sync to music, play games, or relax in soothing light.
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Smart Home

With a simple command, Alexa can arm all your security devices

Alexa customers can query status plus arm or disarm home security systems several companies. New Alexa Guard skills set your home to away mode, send alerts when alarms or sensors go off, and contact home security monitoring services.
Smart Home

Voice assistant-enabled Deebot N79S robot vacuum now deeply discounted

The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is more powerful and quieter than its predecessor and adds Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. Ready to make cleaning easier than ever, this voice-enabled bot will vacuum your home on spoken command.
Smart Home

Dog or cat shedding? These vacuums do a great job of sucking up pet hair

Got a pet hair problem? Fortunately, there's help for you and your furry friend. We tested out a bunch of vacuums that promise to remove pet hair. Here are a few of the best you can buy.
Smart Home

Rocco wants to rock out. Parrot learns to use owner’s Amazon Alexa

Rocco, an African gray parrot, fell in love with his owner's Alexa unit and ordered himself treats and other goodies, but mostly uses the smart assistant to rock out to his favorite music.
Smart Home

Find good gift ideas with these small kitchen appliance deals on Amazon

Small kitchen appliances are favorite holiday gifts to give and to receive and that doesn't only mean an Instant Pot. We found excellent deals on Amazon for blenders and espresso makers plus a highly rated sous vide machine.
Smart Home

The Echo Wall Clock can help you keep track of multiple Alexa timers

Amazon just released the Echo Wall Clock that was announced at its September new hardware device event in Seattle. The Echo Wall Clock is an analog clock that also indicates the minutes remaining on one or more Alexa timers.